Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Nalut Spring Festival - 2007

Everyone wants to know where I was off to last weekend. Well, I'm getting caught up with the laundry and back into my usual routine and now I can spare a few minutes to sit down and post about my recent adventure. (click on images to see them enlarged)

I was invited to visit Nalut for the Nalut Annual Spring Festival. Download brochure here This is the fourth year that the festival has been held and one of committee members who is an avid reader of my website and blog invited me to come for the festival.

Nalut on Google Earth

I was thrilled to be invited and I asked my friend Tara to come along. We had originally planned to have a weekend away from husbands and kids. Tara's husband said 'Have a nice time.' my husband said 'What? Are you serious? There is no way that you are going un-chaperoned! What will people think?' Aaahhhh... he's sooooo Libyan! Change of plans - we would have to drag along husbands. And then the day we were to leave Tara's husband had to stay in Tripoli and Mustafa got the great idea to take Jenna and Ibrahim in his place.... God forbid that I actually have some peace and quiet in my life... sigh...

The ride out was uneventful. It takes about four hours to drive there from Tripoli. We started out at about two o'clock, driving through rush hour traffic to the outskirts of the capitol. Soon we found ourselves in farmland and later in rocky, hilly areas leading to the mountains. We detoured to take a drive through Kabow. The road snaked back and forth through the mountains and the view was fantastic.

View looking down from the mountain in Kabow

Nalut is in the Nafusa Mountains and is approximately 2,000 feet (610 M) above sea level.Halfway up the mountain that leads to the city of Nalut a welcome station was prepared for travellers entering the city. A tent was set up next to a small mosque with a group of people serving dates, fresh buttermilk and ibsisa (a mixture of spices and nuts that are roasted and ground into a fine powder. Oil and water is added and it's mixed into a paste). Clean bathrooms, fresh water and a sitting area were provided for women and men. The welcoming committee had answers to any questions that visitors might have and it was a lovely beginning to the generous hospitality offered by the people of Nalut.

The road leading into Nalut (looking down from the top)

We proceded up the zig-zag road to the town located at the top of the mountain to see the festival that was already in progress. The whole town had turned out to celebrate. We watched a presentation of camels carrying traditional baskets filled with grains and dried figs. After a while we met Abdulmonem, my contact from the organizing committee. He and Adel, another Naluti arranged for our accommodation and took special care of all our needs for our three-day stay. I cannot say enough wonderful things about the hospitality of Abdulmenom, Adel and all of the people of Nalut. They were simply the best!

Every aspect of the event was well planned. The entire city turned out and everyone volunteered their time and efforts - everyone from the Boy Scouts to the Red Crescent helped out as well as ordinary citizens. The committee members said planning for the event took about five or six months of hard work and everyone in the town helped out.

Libyan Boy Scouts

Libyan Red Crescent

Children were everywhere! Nearly everyone wore traditional clothing.

DAY TWO was a visit to the old city of Nalut where a traditional crafts market was set up. Then we toured the Qsar.

Man weaving baskets

The finished baskets

Olive oil!

Decorative handicrafts

Various handwoven woolen goods were on sale

Traditional snacks were sold

Examples of a camel driven oil press were shown as well as this simple method of using a large boulder and rolling it over the olives to release the oil.

In the old mosque the boys were learning to read and write Quran the old fashioned way using wooden boards and cane pens dipped in ink

In the past the people of Nalut stored their stocks of food in a well protected and fortified Qsar. The Qsar is several centuries old. The people survived by following their flocks to various grazing lands and they needed a safe place to store their food and supplies. Each family owned a small room in the Qsar. A maze of pathways leads through the Qsar and small roughly hewn wooden doors made from the trunks of date palms cover the openings of the rooms. Ladders and stairways reach to rooms high above and a system of ropes, pulleys and woven baskets helped move foodstuffs such as grain, olive oil, dried figs, dates and even dried and salted meats to the rooms high up in the Qsar. Rooms range from very small to quite large and many of them still have huge clay storage pots inside.

The entrance to the Qsar

The doors to each room are small

Detail of the doors

The system of ropes, pulleys and baskets used to move goods to room at the top of the Qsar

Clay storage pots were used to store food

Not only were people of Nalut represented at the festival but also neighbouring areas of Libya; a display of crafts and jewelry of the Tuareg's of the south of the country and also some musicians from Tunisia.


Tuareg jewelry and handicrafts

On the third and last day we paid a visit to an exhibit of geological findings of the area. The fossil remains of a dinosaur estimated at being 70 million years old was found about one kilometer from Nalut on a site that was used for excavating sand for building purposes. This discovery has brought many researchers to Nalut from all over the world. [Washington University article] Some of the specimens were on display as well as documentation and pictures. Geologists were on hand to answer anyone's questions.

Afterwards we headed to see some troglodyte dwellings. These man-made caves were used as houses in the past because they offered perfect protection for the former generations of Nalut's inhabitants from the heat of the summer and cold of the winter. Inside were exhibits of traditional crafts, clothing, old documents and many different aspects of the ways the people lived in the past. There was also an art show of paintings, sculpture and pottery done by contemporary Libyan artists.

There are openings in places in the roof of the dwellings to allow light and ventilation

Examples of weaving traditional garments

Traditional jewelry was also displayed

Each room of the cave showed another part of life. Here is some examples of different games.

Some of the art exhibited by contemporary Libyan artists

Next was a visit to a traditional camping site set up at the bottom of the mountain. In each tent were shown different features of life, cooking, basket weaving, and clothing. All was accompanied by women and girls singing and beating on drums.

Looking down the mountain at the view of the encampment below

Details of the tent's structure

Women and girls singing and displaying various types of traditional foods

Tents offered dark shade and protection from the heat of the strong sun's rays

Examples of cooking and food

More dancing and music was represented by the Tunisians, including one who danced with ten clay pots balanced on his head!

Colourful Tuaregs danced and had mock battles.

Then we went to visit the natural springs. In the past this was the place where the girls would go to fill their supplies of drinking water. It's shady there with plenty of trees. The water is clear, cold and sweet.
A cool place to play!

I really want to thank the people of Nalut for the wonderful event, especially our guides and helpers; Abdulmenom and Adel, who were so patient with us, answering our millions of questions and providing us with a perfect weekend. Accommodations were super, the food was fabulous. I can't praise you enough. May Allah reward you all!

Our guides during our visit


  1. Fantastic, just incrideble, very impressive and I'm sure much appreciated. I wish I were there.

  2. Thanks, Mrs. Khadija, we hope to see more photos, and you all are more then welcome any time.

    Abdalmonem. Nalut.

  3. wow it looks like you and tara had a great time... its always helpful when you have someone from the area to show you around. hugs holly and the kids

  4. Thanx for the wonderful report from Nalut. Very interesting!
    I always thought of Nalut as a hillbilly mountain, but of course I was wrong. Judging from your pictures there is very much to see and enjoy in Nalut.
    Please bring more reports from the places in Libya you are visiting!

  5. The Pictures are great, they give a nice impression about Nalot, friends of mine where there too, i think that i should do trips to see the beuty of Libyan cities.

  6. absolutely fantastic, thank you and hope to see more inshaAllah.

  7. KhadijaTeri ROCKS! Nalut/Berbers rocked as well! Berber peeps represent the best of Libya...before it was invaded by the Arabs. Tourists should do themselves a favor and get out of Tripoli as soon as humanly possible before it taints their impression of Libya. TRIPOLI IS NOT LIBYA! WARNING! WARNING!!!! Embassies should issue a travel warning to this effect...

    This country has so much more to capitalize on than just oil it's frightening. Once you get out of Tripoli the people are more interesting, educated and polite. Especially Berber and Tourareg areas.
    The coastline is fantastic, sailing, diving, snorkling, kitesurfing, windsurfing.... There is wind at least 8 months of the year, the other the other 4 are perfect for diving and water skiing.
    The Mountain Biking potential is absolutely fantastic. I've only been to Ghariyan, Nalut, and Ghadames, so I'm sure there are many more amazing places to ride.

    Anyhow, thank you KhadijaTeri for taking me along on your adventure. I am forever grateful and had a fantastic time. Keep bloggin girlfriend! Love Tara!

  8. Salam KhadijateriThats a great post.. beautiful pics.. so glad you have had a good time.. maybe you could help me too.. im gearing up to as you something really really special and inshallah you'd say yes :D.
    Also thanks to abdal who held our heads hi and represented the best our culture. Im happy u loved the time out there too tara and agree that to see our country.. u gotta get out of that rut that is tripoli... but a little dissapointed at ur division of arabs and berbers, like arabs are not Libyans.. ouch.. its much deeper than that.. but on the whole Im happy you enjoyed your excursions and wish to join you some day... salam (the enter button on this keyboard dont work..darn it)

  9. My "peeps" have an awesome band! They are Touaregs from Mali! Check out these videos on YouTube! They friggin RoCK! And Carlos Santana...an annual event for my family to go see him in Santa Fe! It's like the perfect fucking storm! I knew these were my peeps! Anyhow, you can download their latest album on iTunes. http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=tinariwen

  10. beautiful post and pictures, unfortunately spolit by tara's ignorance about the arabs of libya by portraying them as invaders and not nice, obviously she doesnt know much, then she spoils it again by using a foul 4 letter word in her second comment, what a shame!!


  11. It wasn't impolite, I was just too impressed, and I want to thank you very much for sharing your experience at the high hills and your photos. They were just wonderful.

  12. You have out done yourself KhadijaTeri! This is an amazing blog. I'm telling you, you need to write a book about the people of Libya.

  13. tara you are right they are f***ing great ( did that for the sensitive eyes). im a big fan of santana myself. i see him every summer in tampa. santana is one of the most open musicians around, he always has something new to contribute. im glad you had a great time with my sister terri. hugs holly and the kids

  14. LOL @ Tara and holly disregarding our sensitive ears.. Im really happy u girls can enjoy the beautyifully archaic modes our culture and embrace ur nostaligia for histories u only read about in books and see in movies...

    Please feel free to navigate our beautiful culture more, especially the Touaregs, whom have lived side by side with Arabs, Christians, other Nomads for centuries.. I'm sure the native americans represented the best of America before the 'invaders' wiped them out.. cleanly.. not living by them.. just wiping them out.. and how long did it take them too???...

    stay and learn from our culture.. ride ur bikes and listen to our music.. lest it stops u in the middle of ur hedonistic pursuits for a while and make u think about the essence of coexistance with a culture that u share, rather than just commodfiy or 'capitalise... on'....

  15. mani you are well spoken,, you write with a purpose... keep it up...i think tara and i express our joy and wonder way out in the open... which at times is taken wrong by others... neither of us trully mean to disrespect anyone, but sometimes we do.... i always say to myself no harm no foul... how great to connect two cultures thru art.... tara found something to connect too... how wonderful and joyous... i thank tara for sharing her connection, and for allowing me to see something new....i really hope everyone pasted that link and listened to some fabulous artists connecting...it would be a shame not too.... maybe then some of the people who were offended would understand that there was no harm intended....hugs holly and the kids

  16. Salam Holly :0

    Thank you for your gracious comment. I was honestly touched by the sincere Joy you and Tara have discovered in our culture and being open about your joy and your willingness to share it in all sincerity only shows your pure intentions that flowered into instant impulses of honesty and ecstasy.

    Of course, being instant, these impulses will bring with them much deep seated biases and ignorance that would cause discomfort to some. But I believe that the best way to deal with them is to first share the sincere joy and then what better way to weed out the subconscious bias and ignorance than with a smile and a laugh 

    The result is that we end up making great friends (Hi Holly and Tara), Learning something (I now know where to bike ride in Libya) and Listening to some great music (I loved that link and I'm def getting the album)

    Salam All

  17. Thank you for sharing KhadijaTeri, and glad you and da others had lots of fun :o)

  18. fabulous pics mashallah! I insist you join us at global Themes!


    this week's photo theme is "eye-brow raisers"

  19. Oh lucky u.....wish i could visit those places in Libya....all I know is tripoly!

  20. Thanks for sharing the pics, they are beautiful!

  21. Hello
    I enjoy reading your blog very much, I also enjoy viewing the pictures that were taken at Nalut Spring Festival – 2007, Nalut is not far off from where I grow up. In fact I was up there just a couple of weeks ago, I left Tripoli on Saturday 3/24 on an early flight to Milan than back to the state, I missed the mountains, the Olive & palm tree, I have been going back home every year for the last 3 years I hope I can continue doing that. Good luck and keep up the good work. I will be glad to help out with photos for your research for your page about (Jabel Nafosa) in General.

  22. Thank you Tara for the link to Tinariwen Tuareg band. I bought their 2007 CD also Africa Calling DVD and I made a page for the band on Janzour.com here's the link - http://www.janzour.com/Tinariwen%20music%20Band.html .

  23. wowowowow

    what an awesome collection of pics..

    is it safe travelling?!?! i would love to.. have an israeli passport but another one too..

  24. Libyan from USA.
    What a amazing photos.My country, I am in love with you. Libya, if you are a woman, you would be the most beauteful on on earth.Thanks for this aweosome work.

  25. What a great blog with wonderful pictures and interesting commentary. Well done.

  26. Salam 3alaikum. Thanks for a stunning preview mashallah! I am impressed with another thing: [An American?] obtaining a visa into Libya from the USA seems so out-of-reach these days (politics)...how did you do it? Did you have to go to the Libyan embassy in D.C.? I have distant relatives who are natives to Nalut, and I may be joining them, finishing school, and building a family soon insha Allah. But, I may need to start with a visa, and the process is entirely new to me. At the least, if you decide to return to Nalut, maybe we'll see each other around!

  27. Nalut is indeed a Berber spot, you like or not "bro'" Ahmed ...



Guidelines for submitting comments

You can rant, you can rave, you can question. I ask only that you are thoughtful about what you write.

Comments are reviewed by me before publication. I don’t edit comments, but I do reserve the right to delete comments that violate my guidelines.

These are the kinds of comments that I think are not appropriate for publication:

- Defamatory or libelous remarks
- Abusive, harassing, or threatening language
- Obscene, vulgar, or profane language
- Racially, ethnically or religiously offensive words
- Illegal or encourages criminal acts
- Known to be inaccurate or contains a false attribution
- Infringes copyrights, trademarks, publicity or any other rights of others
- Impersonates anyone (actual or fictitious)
- Off-topic or spam
- Solicits funds, goods or services, or advertises

Please submit comments in English.

Thank you

My Link List